Skip to comments.Chamber Criticized For Facilitating Hired Help - redistricting disruptors were PAID (Corpus Christi)
Posted on 07/04/2003 9:46:01 AM PDT by MeekOneGOP
Chamber Criticized For Facilitating Hired Help
By Bart Bedsole, KRIS-TV
July 3, 2003
The Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce is receiving criticism this week for it's involvement in Monday's redistricting protest in McAllen.
The reason is that some of the people who boarded one of three buses to McAllen were hired through a local temp agency to take part in the protest, and the Chamber of Commerce's involvement in the trip has a lot of folks crying foul.
The use of these "temps" for political purposes is nothing new.
Candidates in every party have used them for holding signs, passing out flyers, or answering phones.
The question this week is was the local Chamber of Commerce, a seemingly neutral organization, acting appropriately in getting involved the way they did.
Members of the local G.I. Forum chapter announced Wednesday afternoon that they got their wish at Monday's hearing in McAllen by being granted a local hearing in Corpus Christi on Monday.
But the hearing came at a cost.
Not only were nearly a busload of workers from a local temp agency hired to create a more noticeable presence, but the integrity of the group that helped to facilitate the effort is now being questioned, even by others protesting the issue.
Ram Chavez, Commander of the G.I. Forum says, "No, we don't approve of it. These (Forum members) are volunteers, some people took the day off, some people are retired, some people just went, that's who we are."
Fellow G.I. Forum Commander Frank Reyes adds, "I don't know where these people came from, or why. They're trying to undermine what we're doing, and I think that's wrong, and I think an investigation should be done."
Nueces County Republican Party Chair Joel Yowell isn't going as far as to ask for an investigation, but says the Chamber's action certainly looks bad.
He says, "I don't know that they violated any laws, but as far as I'm concerned, the Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce, in this activity, it did not pass the smell test."
Yowell adds that not only have other Republican members of the Chamber expressed their disapproval of the action to him, but the local Republican party was actually considering joining the chamber as a member... until this week.
"The Republican party is not going to be a member of the Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce with this kind of attitude," says Yowell, "this perceived attitude to us."
But Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Niskala says it was not an issue of taking sides or political party preference.
It was simply an issue of helping to facilitate a private source wanting to increase the Coastal Bend's presence at the hearings, and making certain our voices were heard.
"There were no chamber funds used, there was nothing in the way of public funds or so on," says Niskala, "it was just people that were concerned about redistricting and the impact it could have, particularly on our military bases in the 27th Congressional district."
Another redistricting hearing is now set for Monday afternoon at the Solomon Ortiz center here in Corpus Christi.
Local G.I. Forum says they don't plan on holding protests at the Corpus Christi hearing; however, they do plan to keep a careful eye on the proceedings.
*This story is written and published by KRIS Communications. Please send your comments to email@example.com
Copyright 2003, Caller.com. All Rights Reserved.
CORPUS CHRISTI The executive director of the Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce confirmed Wednesday that 40 temporary workers were hired to boost attendance at a congressional redistricting hearing in McAllen, but said they werent encouraged to raise a ruckus.
Tom Niskala said he was embarrassed that members of two Corpus Christi chapters of the American GI Forum created a brouhaha that delayed the start of Tuesdays meeting. He said it reflected poorly on Corpus Christi and stressed that the paid temps had no instructions to take part in the protest.
Stomping on the floors, beating drums and shouting Shut it down, about 150 Hispanic activists drowned out early attempts by the Senate Jurisprudence Committee to hold a hearing in McAllen. Some in the crowd shouted, Whats the use? and The map is already drawn.
The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reported in Thursday editions that most of the temps ignored instructions of one of the protest organizers and didnt take part in the shouting, quoting unnamed attendees at the hearing.
Niskala said temps were hired to be at the meeting in McAllen at the behest of a Corpus Christi businessman, who said he would pay the bill because he wants the 27th Congressional District to remain intact.
The businessman, whom Niskala would not identify, wants the districts military bases represented by longtime U.S. Rep. Solomon P. Ortiz during base realignment and closure hearings, known as BRAC.
Ram Chavez, commander for the Hector P. Garcia Founders Chapter of the GI Forum, said he was unaware the temps were being sent to the meeting.
We had nothing to do with the group of people who were paid, Chavez said.
Susie Luna-Saldana, the education chairwoman for the Felix Longoria chapter of the GI Forum, also denied knowing that the temporary workers were on a bus that took people from Corpus Christi to McAllen.
If someone had the money to pay for them to go and oppose redistricting, good for them, but they had nothing to do with us.
Forum members had said before they went to McAllen that they planned civil disobedience, even if it resulted in arrest. Local GI Forum members succeeded last week in shouting down a redistricting hearing in Brownsville.
Corpus Christi had been omitted from the states itinerary for redistricting hearings.
Chamber Criticized For Facilitating Hired Help
Corpus Christi Caller Times, TX - 18 hours ago
The Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce is receiving criticism this week
for it's involvement in Monday's redistricting protest in McAllen. ...
GOP irate over busing of temps to hearing - San Antonio Express
CC Chamber's paid ralliers draw fire of Republicans - Corpus Christi Caller Times
Chamber sent temps to McAllen - Corpus Christi Caller Times
Corpus Christi Caller Times
7-4, State: Temps hired to attend hearing took part in protest
News Journal, TX - 11 hours ago
... of the Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce confirmed Wednesday that 40 temporary workers
were hired to boost attendance at a congressional redistricting hearing ...